Steroid Myths Part 1

by Anthony Roberts

There are few drugs in the world that are subjected to as much misinformation as anabolic steroids. When athletes were first using anabolic steroids in the 1940s and ’50s to break world records, the scientific and medical community simultaneously published studies that told us that they didn’t work. During that time the only legitimate information about these drugs was coming from the front lines; the weightlifters (and later bodybuilders) who had tried them and knew what they did. For decades there were scientists claiming anabolic steroids did not do anything to build muscle or strength and, to this day, the Physician’s Desk Reference says that they do not work to improve athletic performance.

Ultimately, medical science started playing catch up, but the damage was done and we steroid-users mostly turned a blind-eye to anything falling from the Ivory Towers of academia. And then came the Internet – where a hodge-podge of science and experience has been brought together to create some of the biggest steroid-myths we’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, since they come from other steroid users and not doctors, we’ve come to accept many of them as fact. And because the internet is the primary source of information on anabolic steroids at this point, the person who screams the loudest is the one who is most often repeated – right or wrong.

Myth: Steroids down-regulate your androgen receptors (this is why your first cycle is always your best).

Truth: The logic for this myth actually makes a lot of sense – receptor down-regulation is pretty obvious when you drink a cup of coffee every day for a month, then find you need to keep increasing the size to get the same “kick”. We see (and feel) this receptor downgrade with caffeine, clenbuterol, ephedrine and a ton of other stuff, so it’s logical to think that we’re seeing the same thing with steroids. Sadly, the science tells us otherwise. Steroids actually do the opposite – they up-regulate your androgen receptors. It’s wrong to think about androgen receptors as permanent receptacles for the androgen ligand (sort of like a fixed electrical outlet in your house). In reality, your androgen receptors are constantly being turned over. When unattached to an androgen they have a half life of approximately three hours and are ultimately replaced with new ones. However, in the presence of an androgen (i.e. when they’re attached), they become more sensitive, their half life is doubled and the amount of new receptors being formed also increases substantially. It’s also important to remember that AR-mediated effects are not the whole story when it comes to anabolic steroid activity in the body. There are still a host of other effects that have little to nothing at all to do with AR, known as non-AR dependent effects, which include central nervous system stimulation and a host of other anabolic and potentially anabolic activities. But that still leaves us with the question of why our gains seem to slow down after a few cycles, and why we need to keep upping the dose. In truth, the answer probably has more to do with the body attempting to return to homeostasis through other mechanisms than it has with the androgen receptor per se. Still, if you’re worried about your androgen receptors you can take some L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, a nutritional supplement that has been shown to increase androgen receptors (it was included in Anavite, from Gaspari Nutrition, for this exact reason).

Myth: Winstrol is the same whether you drink it or inject it.

Truth: When you pass a steroid through your liver it’s subject to a different metabolism to that of steroids injected directly into the muscle. In the case of Winstrol (Stanozolol), this includes greater interaction with SHBG, which lowers the amount of that carrier protein (allowing you to free up more androgen in the body). However, overall you get greater protein synthesis with the injectable route of administration, but both methods have their advantages.

Myth: If you inject double the amount of testosterone you have twice as much in your bloodstream.

Truth: Again, this one seems to make a lot of sense. If you inject 600 milligrams of testosterone you should have twice as much in your blood as you would injecting 300 milligrams. But this isn’t how it works. The dose you’re taking isn’t equivalent to the blood plasma levels you’ll achieve – nor will doubling the dose necessarily double your blood plasma levels of testosterone. When scientists compared a 300 milligram shot of testosterone to a 600 milligram shot, they found that the 300mg weekly shot will get a normal male to approximately 1,345 ng/dl, while a 600mg weekly shot will get a normal male to 2,370 ng/dl (less than double the amount achieved with half the dose).

Myth: Testosterone is testosterone.

Truth: Although this seems like something that can’t be a myth, it is. Methyltestosterone (oral testosterone) converts to a much more potent version of oestrogen (methylestrogen) in the liver, while injectable testosterone does not. And, even the injectable testosterones have their differences; short esters convert to less oestrogen than longer esters. And, just to make things even more complicated, the patches and gels are convert to dihydrotestosterone to a much greater degree than either the injectable or oral testosterones.

Both oestrogen and dihydrotestosterone have profound physiological effects on the body and, because every type of testosterone doesn’t convert to them equally, we find varying effects depending on the one we’re using. Oestrogen promotes greater adipose (fat) gain, but also greater muscle gain, while DHT gives a harder, more quality look to the physique. Still, although we see this “testosterone is testosterone” myth repeated (online mostly) we also see top-flight bodybuilders taking advantage of the differences in various testosterones – long esters for bulking, short esters for cutting. So it’s not only the route of administration (oral, transdermal or injectable) that matters, but also the ester of the injectable versions. Testosterone is, strangely, not just testosterone.

Myth: Steroids don’t work unless you train and eat properly.

Truth: We’d love this to be true, wouldn’t we? But the truth is that numerous studies conducted on burn victims, the elderly and other special populations, tell us that anabolic steroids will work to build muscle even in the most catabolic conditions, and in the absence of training. We see the same thing with people who have terrible training programmes but continue to make gains because they’re juicing. For optimal results, steroids are added to a proper programme and diet, but they’ll help even if you’re doing everything wrong. Hey, I didn’t make the rules, I’m just telling you what the science says!

Stay tuned for Part two….

Anthony Roberts has been researching anabolic steroids for over a decade and is the author of  “Anabolic Steroids: Ultimate Research Guide,” addition to the ebook “Beyond Steroids,” and is the co-author of  the book “Jekyll to Hyde: Physique Transformation from Both sides of the Force.” His latest book, Generation S, is in the final stages of publishing and will be released shortly by ECW Press.

Anthony holds a degree from Seton Hall University in English, another degree in Philosophy, and is a current member in good standing of MENSA.

As a competitive martial artist he won a silver medal in the state martial arts tournament in the black belt division.As a competitive rugby player he has played club level in the first division of the North Harbour province of New Zealand, as well as having won multiple first division championships at the club level in the United States, a second division collegiate championship, and played in the Collegiate National All Star Games for two years. In his three years as head rugby coach for Kings Point USMMA, the team accomplished three straight undefeated regular seasons, and won two first division championships. He holds a USARFU level one coaching certification, is a professional member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and holds an additional Level 1 Instructor certification.

His steroid articles have been featured on iSteroids, Steroid.com, EliteFitness, MesoRx, T-Nation, Mind&Muscle, and many other sites. Anthony has designed and developed 4 nutritional supplements, 1 of which became a #1 best seller for Protein Factory. As a trainer and consultant he has helped athletes at all levels of competition, including Professional Bodybuilders, MMA competitors, and Powerlifters.

Anthony keeps active in the print world, and has been writing a column for the South African based bodybuilding magazine, Muscle Evolution, for the past several years, focusing on anabolic steroids and other related performance enhancing drugs.

His comments and steroid expertise regularly find their way into the print media for such publications as The NY Times, The NY Daily News, and many others, including online outlets such as SportsIllustrated.com and ESPN.com. As an expert in the field, he has given talks to academic  organizations such as the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Anthony currently lives in New Jersey and is married with two children.

Visit Anthony’s website at http://www.anthonyroberts.co.za/

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5 Responses

  1. Drew

    Excellent article. Thank you for taking the time to contribute here on strengthvillain!

    November 21, 2010 at 7:58 am

  2. David Long

    Great article. Thanks for taking the time on this site and putting out quality info. I will admit that the internet and the “dude from the gym” are the only real resources out there for steroids and it is bullshit. A doctor will give you boner pills and antdpressants all day long, but god forbid they give you any testosterone. PTs and MDs are loathe to talk about anabolics for recovery and the general public thinks that by taking some shot you can hit a 100mph fastball 400yards. Thanks again

    November 22, 2010 at 6:22 pm

  3. Scott Beall

    Can’t wait for Part 2!

    November 27, 2010 at 7:45 am

  4. wendy pollard

    if you are a 80 year old lady taking double the dose of steroid patches wi9ll they have side afects sutch as ilusinating hope to hear from you soon wendy pollard

    December 13, 2010 at 8:50 am

  5. Quite a beautiful website. I recently built mine and i was looking for some design ideas and you gave me a few. May i ask you whether you developed the website by youself?

    Cheers

    December 13, 2010 at 12:27 pm

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